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IoD calls for the government to review smart meter programme

By Hannah Williams

A recent survey has found that fewer than one per cent of energy customers would be happy to willingly cover the cost for smart meters if given the choice.

The Institute of Directors (IOD) asked a total of 998 members about costs and how much they would pay for the meters.

Nine in ten responded that they were prepared to pay no more than half the required cost – with an average cost of around £400 – with 50 percent refusing to pay anything if they had a choice.

The IOD responded with comments that the unnecessarily complex technology was the reason for the high cost. This involves installing 53 million smart meters in 30 million households and businesses across England, Scotland and Wales.

The smart meters will remove the need for manual readings, however alternative technology such as clip on readers are available that would be cheaper.

Questions were also raised regarding how much benefit consumers will gain from new in-home displays that are fitted to help households monitor their energy use.

Matthew Evans, Executive director at TechUK said: “Smart meters are an essential part of our future energy infrastructure and it is vital that we press on with their deployment…As well as providing accurate billing and assisting consumers in changing their energy usage (80% of consumers who already have smart meters have taken at least one step in reducing their energy costs), they are also a fundamental building block of smart grid. The smart grid is fundamental to ensuring that we have a more flexible, efficient and resilient energy supply for generations to come.”

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The UK’s Public Accounts Committee has alerted that the savings on energy bills may fall to as little as two percent a year.

It is hoped that every home and business will be offered smart meter by the end of 2020. However, giving the issues with the technology, minimal saving and the unwillingness of consumers to meet the cost the IOD has urged the Government to review the benefits of the project.

Dan Lewis, Senior energy adviser at the Institute of Directors said: “The Prime Minister has shown willingness to review major infrastructure projects where there are question over the value for money. Now is the right time to review the smart meter programme, which is an overly complex scheme for which the benefits are far from clear.

It looks very unlikely that smart meters will meet the target to be fully developed by December 2020. Even worse, many of the smart meters going in now will not work if the customer switches to a new supplier.”

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